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STEM Student Challenge

The Microsoft STEM Student Challenge Official Rules


The Microsoft STEM Student Challenge aims to help students connect the dots between the STEM subjects they study today and the impact those subjects could have on their ability to be part of the next generation of computer science heroes. The Challenge invites students to use their knowledge of STEM subjects and marry it with research and creativity to imagine and depict (through a two minute video) an idea for a technology that could exist in 2037. Finalists will be invited to an exciting one-day event at Microsoft’s research lab in Cambridge, where they’ll experience the future of computing first-hand and present their idea to world-leading computer science researchers and engineers who will select the winning teams.

We encourage you to carefully review the details for the challenge before registering and submitting an entry as the competition has unique eligibility requirements, methods of entry and content requirements.

PLEASE NOTE: It is your sole responsibility to comply with your school’s gift policies.  If your participation in the finals of this competition is likely to violate your school’s gift policy, please contact the events team; stemsc@microsoft.com for assistance. Failure to bring this to our attention prior to competition entry could result in disqualification. Microsoft disclaims any and all liability and will not be party to any disputes or actions related to this matter.


This competition starts at 4:00pm on 27 October 2016 and ends at 5:00pm on 10 February 2017 (“Entry Period”). Finalists will then be selected to attend a Grand Final event (being held 5 May 2017) and will be notified on 10 March 2017.

Entries must be received within the Entry Period to be eligible.


Your school is eligible to enter if the students and teacher assigned to the team (“Team Members”) meet the following requirements at time of entry:

  • All Team Members are UK residents.
  • All Team Members are actively enrolled at an accredited educational institution in the 2016-17 school year.
  • None of the Team Members are an employee or intern of Microsoft Corporation, or an employee of a Microsoft subsidiary.
  • None of the Team Members are involved in any part of the execution or administration of this Competition.
  • None of the Team Members can be an immediate family member of (parent, sibling, spouse/domestic partner, child) or household member of a Microsoft employee, an employee of a Microsoft subsidiary, or a person involved in any part of the administration and execution of this Competition in the 2016-17 school year.

This challenge is void where prohibited by law.

This challenge is void outside the United Kingdom and wherever else prohibited by law.

Entry to the The Microsoft STEM Student Challenge for the 2016-17 school year is free of charge.


To enter, select one (1) of the three (3) categories listed on the Challenge website. Form a team of at least four (4) but no more than six (6) students in school years 8-10, who all attend the same school. Create a video of no longer than two (2) minutes, depicting an original idea for a technology that you think could exist in 2037, using research and knowledge of computer science and other STEM subjects. Please note: it is not necessary to bring your idea into reality.

Schools can enter multiple teams into the competition, however, each team must only submit one entry. Students cannot be in more than one team. This entry should be unique, and projects must not previously have reached the final of any national or international competition or challenge. If a team makes multiple submissions, we will only use the last entry submitted and earlier entries will be disqualified.

We will only accept one (1) entry per team. We are not responsible for entries that we do not receive for any reason, or for entries that we receive but are not decipherable for any reason.

We will automatically disqualify:

  • Any incomplete or illegible entry; and
  • Any entries that we receive that are in excess of the entry limit described above.


To be eligible for judging, an entry must meet the following content / technical requirements:

  • be from a school-based team in the UK.
  • be in the form of a video of no longer than two (2) minutes.
  • show evidence of knowledge of computer science of other STEM-based subject/s
  • be submitted using a Microsoft Account to a secure folder, the link for which will be sent via email.

In addition:

  • your entry must be your team’s original work; and
  • your entry cannot have been selected as a winner in any other contest; and
  • you must have obtained any and all consents, approvals or licenses required for you to submit your entry; and
  • your entry may not include any third party trademarks (logos, names) or copyrighted materials (music, images, video, recognizable people) unless you have obtained permission to use the materials. You may include Microsoft trademarks, logos, and designs, for which Microsoft grants you a limited license to use for the sole purposes of submitting an entry into this Contest.

Entries may NOT contain, as determined by us, in our sole and absolute discretion, any content that:

  • is sexually explicit, unnecessarily violent or derogatory of any ethnic, racial, gender, religious, professional or age group; profane or pornographic;
  • promotes alcohol, illegal drugs, tobacco, firearms/weapons (or the use of any of the foregoing) or a particular political agenda;
  • is obscene or offensive;
  • defames, misrepresents or contains disparaging remarks about other people or companies;
  • communicates messages or images inconsistent with the positive images and/or good will to which we wish to associate; and/or violates any law.

We reserve the right to reject any entry, in our sole and absolute discretion, that we determine does not meet the above criteria.


The intent and spirit of the challenge is to test the research skills, STEM knowledge and creativity of the student entrants. Any adults acting as a team mentor, or in any mentorship role, must limit the level of support provided to student entrants to general guidance and must not contribute in any way that may be considered original authorship, or in a way that may enable claims of rights or ownership to the submitted entries. In no event will work-on-behalf of teams or individuals be allowed.

To be eligible for judging, all entries must meet the following general standards:

  • All entry materials must be presented and/or submitted in the English language unless otherwise specified.
  • If you are selected to go through to the second round, and are required to make an oral presentation or provide supporting materials, these presentations and materials must be presented and/or submitted in the English language unless otherwise specified.
  • You are responsible for providing your own translator if you need one. Microsoft staff cannot serve as translators for your team. It is acceptable for mentors to serve as translators but they must only translate the spoken words of team members and not make a presentation on behalf of the team.
  • The content of your entry and any supporting materials must be acceptable for all viewing audiences. We will automatically disqualify any entrant that submits any entry or supporting materials that contain text, sound or images that we, in our sole opinion and for any reason, find vulgar, offensive, or inappropriate for public viewing, or that presents us in a negative light.

By submitting an entry in this challenge, you confirm that, to the best of your knowledge:

  • Your entry meets the requirements set forth above and in any applicable specific competition rules.
  • The entirety of the entry is your teams original work; please note your video must be solely the work of the team, including but not limited to, the actual filming, editing, graphic design, etc. of the video.
  • You have obtained any and all consents, approvals, or licenses required for you to submit your entry.
  • You are able to attend the The Microsoft STEM Student Challenge Grand Final event taking place on 5 May 2016.

Important note about Copyright

Your team’s entire entry must only include material (including source code – both open source and third party sourced, user interface, music, video or images) that you own or that you have permission from the copyright/trademark owner to use. Your team’s entry may not include copyrighted materials (such as source code, user interface, background music, images or video) unless you own or have permission to use the materials. Ownership is not defined as purchasing a CD at a music store for replay, playing a copyright recording on your guitar or repurposing an application’s user interface – your team’s entry will be disqualified if copyrighted materials, including but not limited to these examples, are a part of your entry without appropriate licensing or permissions.  If you do use permissible copyrighted materials, you must include the permissions information by citing the artist/creator and license information as per the respective Competition Rules. Note that even material released under sites such as Creative Commons, common open source code licenses, and other similar licensing may need permission or acknowledgement as per the specific license. Note: your team’s entry will be disqualified if permissions information is not included as per the requirements in the specific Competition Rules.

We reserve the right to disqualify or reject any entry that we, in our sole and absolute discretion, determine does not meet the above criteria. If we do not receive a sufficient number of entries meeting the entry requirements, we may, at our discretion, select fewer than the designated number of winners. The decisions of the judges are final and binding in all matters related to the Competition.


Other than what is set forth below, we are not claiming any ownership rights to your entry.  However, by submitting your entry, you:

  • are granting us an irrevocable, royalty-free, worldwide right and license to: (i) use, review, assess, and otherwise analyse your entry and all its content in connection with this Competition; and (ii) feature your entry and all content in connection with the marketing, sale, or promotion of this Competition (including but not limited to internal and external sales meetings, conference presentations, tradeshows, and screen shots of the Competition entry in press releases) in all media (now known or later developed);
  • agree to sign any necessary documentation that may be required for us and our designees to make use of the rights you granted above;
  • understand and acknowledge that the Sponsor(s) may have developed or commissioned materials similar or identical to your submission and you waive any claims you may have resulting from any similarities to your entry;
  • understand that we cannot control the incoming information you will disclose to our representatives in the course of entering, or what our representatives will remember about your entry. You also understand that we will not restrict work assignments of representatives who have had access to your entry.  By entering this Contest, you agree that use of information in our representatives’ unaided memories in the development or deployment of our products or services does not create liability for us under this agreement or copyright or trade secret law;
  • understand that you will not receive any compensation or credit for use of your entry, other than what is described in these Official Rules.

Please note that following the end of the Competition your entry may be posted on a website selected by us for viewing by visitors to that website.  We are not responsible for any unauthorised use of your entry by visitors to this website.  While we reserve these rights, we are not obligated to use your entry for any purpose, even if it has been selected as a winning entry.

If you do not want to grant us these rights to your entry, please do not enter this Competition.


At the close of the event entry period, as well as at the Grand Final, a panel of judges will review all eligible entries and select winners of the prizes designated below based upon the judging criteria below.

Video Judging Criteria

  • 15% – Originality of idea
  • 20% – Quality of research
  • 20% – Understanding of computer science and/or STEM (science, technology, maths and engineering) subject/s
  • 15% – Quality of presentation and clarity of idea
  • 10% – Is it feasible?
  • 10% – Evaluation of the process

Grand Final Judging Criteria

  • 15% – The idea shows originality
  • 15% – The team has demonstrated who the technology would be used by and how it would be used
  • 20% – The team has considered how and why this technology would be possible and desirable in 2037
  • 20% – The team has carried out research to formulate and support their idea
  • 10% – The team has demonstrated what STEM-related learnings they’ve taken from developing their idea
  • 20% – The presentation was entertaining and gave a clear description of the idea

In the event of a tie between any eligible entries, an additional judge will break the tie based on the judging criteria described above.  The decisions of the judges are final and binding.  If we do not receive a sufficient number of entries meeting the entry requirements, we may, at our discretion, select fewer winners than the number of prizes described below.

Contest PrizesOne (1) Grand Prize.  Five thousand pounds (£5,000.00) towards computing equipment for the school.   Plus a Prize Package consisting of the following for each Team Member:

One (1) swag bag.  Approximate Retail Value (ARV) £400.00.

Three (3) Category Prizes.  One thousand five hundred pounds (£1500.00) towards computing equipment for the school. Plus a Prize Package consisting of the following for each Team Member:

One (1) swag bag.  Approximate Retail Value (ARV) £100.00.

The ARV of electronic prizes is subject to price fluctuations in the consumer marketplace based on, among other things, any gap in time between the date the ARV is estimated for purposes of these Official Rules and the date the prize is awarded or redeemed.  We will determine the value of the prize to be the fair market value at the time of prize award.

The total ARV of all prizes: £13,700

We will only award one (1) prize(s) per person.


The overall winners will be selected during the pitching event at Microsoft Research Cambridge on 5 May 2017 and must be present at time of winner announcement to win.


Taxes on the prize, if any, are the sole responsibility of the winner.  All UK laws and regulations apply.  No substitution, transfer, or assignment of prize permitted, except that Microsoft reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value in the event the offered prize is unavailable. If a selected winner cannot be contacted, is ineligible or fails to claim a prize, the selected winner will forfeit their prize and an alternate winner will be selected. Your odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries we receive. In the event of a dispute all decisions of Microsoft are final.

By entering this competition, you agree:

  • to abide by these Official Rules; and
  • to release and hold harmless Microsoft and its respective parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, employees and agents from any and all liability or any injury, loss or damage of any kind arising from or in connection with this challenge or any prize won; and
  • that by accepting a prize, Microsoft may use students’ names, your school’s name and town of residence online and in print, or in any other media, in connection with this Competition, without payment or compensation to you, except where prohibited by law.


If someone cheats, or a virus, bug, bot, catastrophic event, or any other unforeseen or unexpected event that cannot be reasonably anticipated or controlled, (also referred to as force majeure) affects the fairness and / or integrity of this competition, we reserve the right to cancel, change or suspend this competition. This right is reserved whether the event is due to human or technical error. If a solution cannot be found to restore the integrity of the competition, we reserve the right to select winners from among all eligible entries received before we had to cancel, change or suspend the competition.

If you attempt or we have strong reason to believe that you have compromised the integrity or the legitimate operation of this challenge  by cheating, hacking, creating a bot or other automated program, or by committing fraud in ANY way, we may seek damages from you to the fullest extent permitted by law.  Further, we may disqualify you, and ban you from participating in any of our future challenges, so please play fairly.


We will post the names of winners who received a prize online at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/academic-program/stemstudentchallenge/. This list will remain posted one year after winner selection.

This competition is sponsored by Microsoft Research Cambridge, 21 Station Road, Cambridge, CB1 2FB.